I firmly believe that your goal should be to eliminate or dramatically reduce the burning of fossil fuels by restructuring your business and supply chain. Taking the easy option of buying credits is in my mind a short term goal whilst you're heading down the reduction path.
What follows is our own story on carbon pollution reduction.
Where do you start?
In 2006 we realised we could do more to reduce our carbon pollution footprint when one of our clients, Carbon Planet, offered to do a part contra deal, carbon reduction services for email filtering services.  That sounded like a sensible deal!
Carbon Planet conducted a comprehensive audit of the greenhouse gas emissions accountable to Cleartext for the 2006/07 financial year and updated this for the 2007/08/09 years.
The aim of this process was to define and establish an operational boundary to account for direct and indirect GHG emissions (scope 1, scope 2, scope 3) that constitute to Cleartext's inventory for the purpose of removing those emissions with carbon credit offsets.  A further aim was to identify areas where GHG emissions may be able to be reduced in subsequent years.
Carbon Planets CO2 free audits are in accordance with the standards outlined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol in the Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (2004)  and ISO 14064-1 specifications for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals.
Elucidation of the activities and items contributing to GHG emissions involves obtaining an organisational inventory of services and processes used as a result of operations within the established organisational boundary.
So each year we purchased carbon credits from the NSW Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme (GGAS) to offset our carbon 'burn'. We also embarked on an aggressive reduction campaign by working through our carbon audits to find more gains.
This led to doing at least the following in our daily activities;
- Where possible we turn _off_ all electrical devices when not in use
- We have reduced the amount of (recycled) paper we use by around 90%
- Use public transport for business travel
- Purchase carbon offsets from travel providers
- Purchase environmentally friendly products and services when possible
- Champion the cause by encouraging clients and business partners to 'go green'.
We looked hard to see where we could improve upon our carbon reduction program and the conclusion was that we'd all but exhausted our options when it came to changes that would lead to tangible reductions upon previous years.  The only thing to do was eliminate the largest consumer of carbon based energy consumption, our physical office!
So in mid 2010 we took the decision to move to a teleworking model and worked hard to ensure a zero impact on the business.  Almost all services had already been outsourced and all business systems were already in the cloud, we'd already gone 95% paperless and harassed our suppliers.  This left very little to re-organise, the only major thing being phones so we've moved to a virtual hosted PBX arrangement.
There are other things to consider, like travel, but we buy offsets from the airlines anyway, and working from home offices eliminates carbon burn via fuel use. The last part of the puzzle was to ensure moving to teleworking didn't increase the carbon footprint at home.  We sold the classic oil burner and bought a low emission one, one less car and it's a lot more efficient.
The interesting thing about being part of a carbon pollution reduction program over a three year period is that we've learnt a lot from our carbon minimisation partner and their team, spent a small amount on carbon credits and finally reached a point where we truly believe we've 'bottomed out' in the drive to reduce our carbon footprint.
For those of you still on this path I'd like to recommend Iain Smale (+61 2 8005 6300) of Pangolin Associates, apart from being an all round nice guy he'll help you reach your own carbon pollution reduction targets with an honest straight forward review of your business. I'm also sure he'll tell you I've over simplified the issues here.:)
Good luck, now turn off that light and all those home entertainment devices on standby mode.
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